by Molly MacRae
Here is another post in our series where authors and others share about their favorite bookstore!
I collect bookstores and keep them organized in categories. (Years ago, I ran an independent bookstore, and more recently I retired from the public library. Organizing books and places where you can get books = natural aptitude.) The abbreviated title of one category in my collection is “How Fast Can I Get There?” (The full title is “How Fast Can I Get There, Step Inside, and Breathe the Whole Place in, Because if I Didn’t Really Care, I’d Just Stay Home and Go to Their Website?”)
Bookstores in this category (an illustrated list with links to their websites) are ones I’ve visited (most over and over) and are currently in business. Here they are in reverse geographic proximity to the starting point – my desk in Champaign, Illinois.
2,157.5 miles – Books Inc., Mountain View, California. Books, Inc. has an origin story that includes the Gold Rush, fire, relocation, re-naming, bankruptcy, and triumph as the West’s oldest surviving independent bookseller. There are ten locations throughout the Bay Area. This one’s in charming downtown Mountain View and has a balcony where I can sit and write with one of my brothers.
2,139.9 miles – Stinson Beach Books, Stinson Beach, California. In a neat old house, on Highway 1, near the beach. The shop is a bit like a Tardis – it’s bigger on the inside. It is the only bookshop located on the San Andreas Fault. The San Andreas Fault! You get a frisson of fear with your books.
1,012.1 miles – Books to be Red, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina. Another shop in an old house – this one a cottage built in 1898. Wonderful selection of books, cards, games, gifts, and pottery, in a town on island that I love.
978.6 miles – Buxton Village Books, Buxton, North Carolina. Another shop in a house on an island, this time Hatteras. Also Tardis-like. I always find something here to buy.
418.8 miles – Fair Isle Books, Washington Island, Wisconsin. Continuing the theme of bookshops on islands that I love. This shop didn’t exist when I spent my childhood summers on the island, but what a wonderful addition. A wide selection of titles in a small space. Well worth the visit.
1.2 miles – Jane Addams Book Shop, Champaign, Illinois. 70,000 used titles, in 100 categories, in fifteen separate rooms, on three floors, in a great old building downtown. For a short while, I worked part time here and full time at the public library. I like books.
.6 miles – 11 minutes by foot! – FriendShop Bookstore, lower level of the Champaign Public Library, Champaign, Illinois. Run by the library’s Friends volunteer organization, the shop sells gently used books (either donated or discards from the library’s collections). Great prices, always an unusual selection, and frequent special sales.
Other categories in my bookstore collection that might be of interest:
“Gone, and I Will Always Miss You”
“Someday, Someday” First on this list is Leakey’s Bookshop. It’s only 3,737 miles away in Inverness, Scotland!
“Bookstores That Only Exist in the Between the Pages of Stories and Covers of Books”
I also collect public libraries.
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